Bulgaria Defense Ministry to Dispatch 180 Troops along Border with Turkey
As many as 180 troops are to be deployed at the Bulgaria-Turkey border, Defense Minister Nikolay Nenchev has said.
The soldiers will be in charge of providing logistic support to Border Police, the Interior Ministry subdivision in charge of safeguarding border security.
Troops who are to provide assistance there could undergo "additional preparation and training" if this is required, the Bulgarian National Radio quotes Nenchev as saying.
The Defense Ministry could as well provide the State Agency for refugees with derelict barracks and units in case the agency needs them.
The minister's comments have marked the conclusion of a weeks-long dispute between him and his colleague heading the Ministry of Interior, Veselin Vuchkov. The latter had earlier proposed that the army deploy troops to help border police in its attempts at stemming the influx of asylum seekers illegally crossing into Bulgaria.
Military officials, including Nenchev himself, had resisted, arguing there were no illegal grounds to send troops there in a move which in their words could be interpreted as "an act of aggression" by Turkey. The minister later added the army was not legally authorized to carry out such activity.
Earlier in January Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov intervened, saying that the army would only provide "logistic support".
On Saturday Nenchev also commented on the country's defense expenditure in the aftermath of a visit of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to Bulgaria this week.
He explained that Bulgaria was to receive USD 15 M set aside for defense investment in the course of 2015, with the sum granted by the US government. In his words, the money will be used to renovate the firing ground at Novo Selo and also the Bezmer airport and also to build new facilities.
"We are also expecting to acquire soon a multirole fighter and 3D radars to defend our airspace, in line with our country's commitments to NATO," the minister added.
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